Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fall Dinner in a Heat Wave - What Was I Thinking?

Honestly, I can’t believe that it’s the end of July and you haven’t heard me whine about the heat yet. Last summer I was very vocal. This year I must be maturing or it’s too hot to even bother. The good thing is I have no appetite – remember I’m dieting, the bad news- because I’m on The South Beach Diet fruit, which are high in sugar, should only be eaten sparingly. The problem is, I have no energy for “real” meals and only want to bite into some juicy pears or plums or cherries or berries or….well you get the idea. I really have to force myself to do any cooking or baking and the truth is…it’s all uninspired except for steaks or fish on the grill served with some salad or other.

So what was I thinking when I came up with this meal?????

The other day I had a minor disaster. My freezer was so packed (I only have the freezer compartment on top of my fridge) that the air wasn’t circulating. In going through it I found umpteen bags of shrimp (great on the BBQ, so no problem using those up – more shrimp recipes tomorrow) along with umpteen bags of frozen cranberries. So I thought I’d make some chicken with cranberry & orange sauce. I also found a recipe in The Gourmet Cookbookfor wheat berries and toasted pecans that sounded like a good side dish and a recipe I found on the cooking adventures of chef paz blog for cauliflower & chickpeas(the only one I liked) so thanks Paz.

I had made a delicious wheat berries salad before, so I was excited to try to make it some other ways as well. Wheat berries are similar to buckwheat, think bulgur wheat but bigger (The Cook’s Thesaurus says they take hours to cook – I probably should have read that first). Now the last time I made them for the salad, the weather was cool and I enjoyed hovering over the pot, which was simmering for over an hour until the wheat berries were soft. But it’s hot, I have little patience and zero joy for it – even with the air conditioner blasting away. So I drained them before their time (they were chewy)….strike one for this dish. I followed the recipe (no broth, just water) and even added some dried cranberries along with the toasted pecans and sautéed onions…still boring. At least it qualifies for Weekend Herb Blogging over at Kalyn's Kitchen. Pssst, don't worry, I zazzed it up a bit for the post.

So on to the chicken dish. I made the sauce (which will be delicious in the Fall when I have patience to simmer and stir and add and taste and add some more) too hastily to get away from the stove, so once again, I didn’t take the care I would normally. I’ve added the recipe here anyway because the base is good, it just needs a little more loving than I was willing to give it. And of course (because I’m a glutton for punishment – or brain dead from the heat, I’m not sure which) I decided that I had to bake the chicken in a 350°F/180°C oven for 40 minutes - which will work wonderfully in the Fall, making the house smell delicious. Now it just added to the heat.

Last, but definitely not least (and the only dish perfect for the weather) was the cauliflower & chickpeas with mustard seeds. In fact, it made a fabulous salad yesterday with some lemon juice, lots of fresh cilantro chopped and crumbled feta cheese. We had some grilled chicken breasts with a boring bbq sauce but the cauliflower was the real star of the meal.

So without further ado, here’s the menu. It is all South Beach Diet friendly, so with some TLC (tender loving care) and some cooler weather, it should be delicious. I promise tomorrow's meal will be more summery.


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Kalyn Denny said...

They all sound good. I am leaving this comment from Blogher!

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! Thanks for the special mention here. I'm so honored!

Kalyn's right. Everything on your menu sounds good, even if the first two weren't heatwave friendly.

I'm really glad you like the cauliflower and chickpeas. I especially love your addition of cilantro and feta cheese and lemon juice. Yum, yum, yum! You know I'm going to have to try your recipe soon! Very soon! ;-) Thanks, Ruth!